View Full Version : trip report -- fuel & oil consumption, some travel tips

05-28-2011, 10:56 PM
Hello all,

I have been quiet lately-- out driving my Sprinter instead of getting on the forum with you guys all giving me new things to worry about. (Kidding!)

I just returned from a ~2500-mile trip through much of the Southeastern quadrant of the US, eight states not including the Lone Star. I wanted to give a couple of travel notes in case they are useful for others in the future.

Background: I restore 1950s-60s English and German sports cars for fun-- would love to add "and profit", but I'm feeling honest today-- and the Sprinter is my shop truck. It's a 2008 144" low-roof cargo 2500 (in Dodge parlance), with about 35,500 miles as of the conclusion of the trip. No real problems to date, unless you count a couple of EGR cleanings.

On the way out, we were lightly loaded, with just some tools and spares in the back. Fuel mileage, calculated at fill-up (the only right way!*), was 23.2mpg for each tank-- seriously, the same each time to the first decimal. Temperatures were in the 70s-80s, and the end of the trip was up in the hills of western North Carolina.

The trip back, we had the same load of tools, and an English car of approximately 1800lbs sitting on one of the absurdly heavy U-Haul trailers, for a combo of 3900 lbs in tow. Round it up to 2 tons' load for the miscellaneous gifts and knickknacks I'd picked up along the way. Fuel mileage varied from 17.5 to 18.6mpg, not bad! I added 1 quart of oil just at the start of the return journey, so that's one quart used in the 4000 miles since my last oil change at about 30,500. Interestingly, I then used another full quart in the 1000-mile trip from Asheville, NC, to Houston! I hope that usage doesn't continue, but I think the increase in temperatures (mid-80s to today's even 100) and my rowing through the Tiptronic probably contributed. With the trailer on the back, I always use the manual mode in the transmission, and cruise on the highway at 55mph in 4th gear. Side note: people are much less annoyed with me in the South than when I try this in other parts of the country-- we're a slow-moving people down here. :smilewink:

Some travel tips:
Always check your fluids before leaving. I'm sure you guys do, and I'm usually good about that myself, but this time I didn't notice that the washer fluid was not full when I left-- and I ran out of the blue stuff just as I got back into Gulf Coast mosquito country last night.
Check your cabin air filter while you're under the hood. Mine had come adrift slightly at some point over the course of the trip, and was letting dust into the cabin for an hour or two before I realised what was going on. Annoying.
If you have the "cargo package" in your Sprinter-- the wood floorboards with the steel D-rings and supplementary slotted aluminum rails-- I recently found a good tie-down option. These are ringed clamps that fit into the aluminum rails, so that you can position them for convenience anywhere along the length of the rail. I'll post a photo if this description is unclear. The brand is Anchortrax, and they are available from local auto parts retailers (http://www.oreillyauto.com/site/c/detail/ANX0/3370.oap?pt=N0059&ppt=C0347). I paid $9.95 per unit, but I'm sure you can save money ordering online. Other, similar items can be found searching the forums, for example here (http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2350), but I wanted to post that these are available at the corner shop if you need one today.
I had a breakdown! Well, sort of: the day after collecting the trailer and car, after a night of heavy rains, I found that the trailer lights would not work at all. Stupidly, I had brought along every tool except my circuit tester, but the local U-Haul shop was just up the road. The helpful tech quickly determined that the fault was with the van and not the trailer-- surprising, since the trailer was a real piece of junk this time. Anyway, I was very puzzled, since none of the fuses in the dash or underseat panels were burned out... until I realized that there was a separate fuse for the add-on trailer hitch wiring harness. This other fuse lives in the battery compartment under the floor. Would love to claim I had no way to know that, and get all indignant, but the fact is that I installed that harness, and had just forgotten about the extra fuse! I think I may take some time to wire it through an unused slot in the underseat panel, though, just for convenience. And by the way, the root cause was a short in the trailer's taillight wiring, so I had to fix that as well. All told, it was about half an hour spent in a Wal-Mart parking lot, but at least the rain paused while I was working.

Sorry for the wordy post-- I am terrible about that-- but I hope the above helps out somebody searching the forums in the future.


* Fuel mileage calculation: [trip miles since last fill] x [1.04 tire size adjustment factor for non-stock Michelins] / [gallons until pump clicks off]